Can Bangladesh’s batters become fearless in white-ball cricket?

Cricket, Jamie Siddons



Almost 11 years after departing Bangladesh cricket as the men’s team head coach, former Australian cricketer Jamie Siddons is involved in Bangladesh cricket once again.

Questions still linger about whether the former South Australian coach will come back as the batting coach for the High Performance, under-19s or the men’s senior team. Should Siddons come back as the men’s senior team batting coach, he has a lot on his plate with the 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup less than 24 months away.

While a lot of Bangladesh’s recent success has come under the coaching of Chandika Hathurasingha, Siddons deserves a lot of credit in his tenure as Bangladesh head coach. With limited resources as Bangladesh were attempting to produce better cricketers, Siddons was a big reason for the development of players such as Tamim Iqbal, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah.

This time, Siddons comes in with the quarter near the twilight of their careers, but with almost no proper backup bats who can slot in with ease.

And a lot of this comes with the fact that Bangladesh still plays a conservative style of cricket in the limited overs format. The Tigers try to play risk-free cricket, preferring to have wickets in hand and accelerating in the final part of their batting innings.

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(Photo by Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

On slow wickets, this style of cricket works. But on flatter wickets with not much turn on offer – which is what Bangladesh will face come the World Cup in India – totals of 270 will not win them many games against high quality opposition.

Among Bangladesh players who have faced 500-plus balls in ODI cricket, only Soumya Sarkar (97.35) and Sabbir Rahman (91.23) have a career ODI strike rate above 90. That is an extremely worrying statistic with the BCB hardly organising white-ball games for Bangladesh on flat wickets in cities such as Chattogram and Sylhet – rather preferring to play matches on slow and low decks in Dhaka.

Siddons has to make the Bangladesh players willing to take more risks in their batting and not play with a fear of failure: a reason why players such as Sarkar, Sabbir Rahman and Liton Das have struggled for consistency despite playing aggressive cricket.

He needs to get Tamim Iqbal to take advantage of the power play, which Iqbal used to do earlier in his career before becoming the anchor of the Bangladesh line-up. Tamim may not score as many runs by becoming a more aggressive player, but this can get Bangladesh to faster starts.

A leaf needs to be taken out of England’s book on how Bangladesh should play ODI cricket on batting paradises. With Tamim and his partner (either Soumya Sarkar or youngster Mohammad Naim) as the aggressors, Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim can play as the stabilisers in case the Tigers lose early wickets.

A middle order of Liton Das, Mahmudullah and Afif Hossain ensures Bangladesh has both the stability and firepower in the death overs while bowlers Mahedi Hasan, Mohammad Saifuddin and Taskin Ahmed can also contribute with the bat down the order.

With Bangladesh cricket now being run more professionally than it was when Siddons left in 2011, Bangladesh needs to start churning out more wins outside of the subcontinent where their bowlers do not get as much assistance as it does at home in limited overs cricket.

And for that, their batters cannot play with fear on surfaces where 300-plus is required in order to win. Alongside the 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup, the 2022 ICC World T20 in Australia is less than 12 months away.

Bar Sydney, Bangladesh will not encounter a slow surface in any other venue across Australia, meaning their batters have to step up and play with freedom.

Sure, in the short term, Bangladesh playing aggressive cricket may not work. But it will in the long term.

It is no surprise that players such as Travis Head and Alex Carey became white-ball cricketers for Australia when Siddons used to coach South Australia.

Having a good relationship with the Bangladesh senior players from the past, Siddons comes in with the Bangladesh players having a lot of respect for him. And that may be the reason why the batters of Bangladesh may finally play a fearless style of cricket in the limited overs game.

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